FROM CAT CHAT: I am proud to be a supporter of the efforts of www.BtC4animals.com where bloggers come together to help animals in need and/or to showcase causes, stories about animals that are close to our heart and about PEOPLE who are making a difference.
I am a "cat hobbyist", a "cat enthusiast", as many of you are. I am not the end-all be-all authority on MANY issues and never pass myself off as being one.
When I want to feature animals, news or stories that I am not an expert in, I share blog posts with you by others who in many cases ARE authorities in specific areas that I am not, or have first-hand knowledge and experience about issues and stories that I may not have. Today, I am proud to present to you, one of these people! I am excited and honored to present to you today, "Phil, The Cat Guy"
Making a difference for feral cats
For most of my life I somehow never noticed homeless cats. I'm not really sure how I managed this, maybe I just assumed outside cats must belong to someone or maybe I subconsciously just didn't want to see them. That’s all different now since a homeless black cat appeared in my yard and eventually entered my heart and opened my eyes to the world of trap, neuter and return of feral cats.
In late 2010 I noticed a skinny black cat who kept coming around my yard. I didn't think much of it at first because free roaming cats come and go, but this one seemed hungry and skittish. I often saw him trying to find shelter from the constant rain and cold of the Seattle winter. Seeing his plight tugged on my heart and I started putting food out for him. Soon after that, I built him a covered place to eat and two fully insulated and heated homes in my yard (one for him and one for any guests he may have). He approved and immediately moved in. Over time he learned to trust me and eventually let me touch him. He's now known as Oliver.
Right from the start I wanted to get Oliver neutered but I wasn't sure how to go about that. I spent hours online reading information on how to trap feral cats. I built a drop trap and purchased my first humane live cat trap. I somehow found the courage to trap him, brought him to my local vet and had him neutered. When he was recovered from his ordeal, I released him back into his yard. That all went fairly well for my first Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR) experience.
Less than two weeks later I happened to glance out the window and saw three additional black cats in the yard! They were all friendly with Oliver and looked identical to him—Oliver had invited his family over to share in his good fortune. Suddenly I needed to figure out how to trap three cats at once and get them altered.
It was exactly at this time that I read a blurb in the Purrfect Pals (my amazing local cat shelter) newsletter advertising a class on how to trap feral cats. The timing could not have been more perfect! I jumped at the chance and learned a ton about how to trap feral cats for TNR. The class was taught by the Community Cat Coalition, which is a collaboration of independent TNR people and several local cat shelters and rescue groups who together train and mentor people in the ways of TNR. I met some amazingly helpful people who talked me through every step of successfully TNR'ing my backyard feral colony.
Since learning the basics of TNR, I have had the opportunity to trap another feral in my backyard as well as to assist other people in the community in trapping feral cats. This past August I coordinated a TNR project that spanned a city block. In the end we trapped and altered 20 feral cats (6 males, 14 females and 14 of the 20 were kittens!) and we educated the neighborhood about the benefits of TNR.
Thanks to Oliver I have learned that one person can make a significant difference in bettering the lives of homeless cats. And thanks to the Community Cat Coalition I have learned that a team of individuals and groups working together can make an even bigger difference.
Oliver and his family continue to happily occupy my yard. Oliver has become quite friendly with me, but sadly he continues to urine mark and so remains a mostly outside cat. His family remains quite feral and they don't let me near, but I enjoy watching them and occasionally playing 'chase the red dot' (laser pointer) with them through the window. I like knowing they no longer need to worry about finding food or a safe place to sleep as they all have heated and secure places here.
I recently started BackyardTNR.com, a site where I chronicle my TNR adventures, share helpful information about TNR and host a live streaming webcam of my backyard ferals. I also write about my indoor cats and all things cat on my fourwhitepaws.net blog.